Like so many people who have contracted the coronavirus, Mr. Crippa on March 2020 lost the ability to smell — so intrinsic to tasting food — and when it returned, it came back warped.
He retrained himself over months, with the help of sensorial analysis experts who train winemakers and truffle hunters. While he believes he has a long way to go before getting back to his former feats of smell, he has emerged in Italy as a symbol of gastronomic resilience — and of hope that the lingering effects of Covid-19 can be surmounted.
For those who “share the same life twist,” as Mr. Crippa refers to his malady, he has organized a course of therapy with help from the Tasters Research Center, a group of food science professors who believe that the sense of smell is connected to the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that plays a crucial role in controlling emotions.
To further help those who contact him, Mr. Crippa often puts them in contact with Arianna Di Stadio, a professor of neuroscience who is experimenting with a treatment at Rome’s San Giovanni hospital that is showing good results in helping patients retrieve their sense of smell.
The group that had signed up for his training sessions in the sensory lab of Piacenza’s Catholic University of the Sacred Heart said that the support Mr. Crippa offered was a vital part of the experience.